Being built on the principles of engineering, IWC is most definitely an innovative brand with serious classical watchmaking chops. Not only has it got a good balance of trendsetting models such as the Pilot’s watches, but the Schaffhausen manufacture is also a consistent producer of grande complications. Due to popular demand it has made a few vintage-inspired models, many of which sell out as quickly as they were launched. Collections like the Portugieser and the Big Pilot’s Watch remain its most iconic bestsellers, but other lines like the Da Vinci and the Portofino have also begun to garner a strong audience.
CEO, Christoph Grainger-Herr:
“I feel that the vintage trend is coming to an end and I think there are good reasons for that. In the watch industry as people feel more insecure about where things were going with digital technology, the more this idea of vintage becomes aspirational and interesting to people. This is the same time that vinyl records had a real rejuvenation, because the analogue world offers an illusion of a better world, one that’s easier to understand, less complex and, at the same time, much more emotional with the idea of retro machines. With technology, when the battery runs out, there’s no way for the human mind to grasp how it works. With vintage cars and watches, there’s always this idea that I can take it apart and if I put my mind to it, understand how it works. There’s also this sense of eternity.
“I just came from the Goodwood Festival of Speed. There were some cars racing at 110 years old. You do wonder if the electric car will be racing in 110 years’ time. This idea of longevity has brought about a lot of vintage design trend because it conjures up ideas of great adventures; a pioneering spirit. People generally believed that the future was somewhat better and yet this whole modernist idea of technical improvement leading to better lives for everybody has crumbled a little bit in recent years because people are not quite so sure about the future. That’s why vintage design became so interesting. But then the shift will come again. People will say, ‘Ok, we like Mars travel and let’s colonise space again…’ This is all forward-looking thinking, and forward-looking thinking will lead to visions of the future, which will lead to futuristic design.
“If you looked purely at the external design of watches, then maybe yes, there’s less innovation. However, at the same time, there’s so much innovation in the technical capability of movements really benefiting a much wider audience. We had years where innovation in watchmaking was focused on the top end of watches, making them more complicated more perfect etc. In recent years we’re seeing more companies putting innovation into basic movements that benefit a wide range of customers. This is a huge development happening on the inside of watches.
“The younger generation is concerned about the value chain: where things come from, how are things made. In many industries, you’re talking about design in one country and production in another. You have no real understanding of how a product comes together. Which other industry can show you every side of the company which has been around since 1868? I can show you everything from the initial guy who does the sketch, through all the stages of production, then to the guy who writes the advertising, all the way to the guy who puts the watch in the box and ships it out. People can come to us and ask how is this bit made, we can literally show them. I think this allows us to capture people’s imagination.”
“T HERE’S S O MUCH INNOVATION INT HE TEC HNI CAL CAPABILITY OF MOVEMENTS THAT’S BENEFITING A MUCH WIDER AUDIENCE .”